>My one year old Border Collie is sitting in a cage at the county Humane
>Society right now and will be there for the next ten days. What is his
>crime? He bit a neighbor child. My dog was inside my six foot fence with
>privacy slats when this occurred. The neighborhood children are always
>banging on the fence and have been known to throw rocks at the dog in the
>past. Did this child? I don't know what he did. I wasn't around when
>the bite occurred.
I have read your post and the various replies. I believe the following:
(1) If a strange (unknown) child or strange adult hits or deliberately harasses an
unattended animal (for example by throwing rocks at it) then the dog is
"entitled" in an ethical/moral sense to defend itself. I do not know if legally,
the animal has a "right of self defense". Legally, the owner is probably
responsible at all times for the dog's behavior, regardless of provocation. It would also
probably be difficult to legally prove that an act of cruelty resulted in an animal's self
defense. The owner would most likely need to be present to document such cruelty and if
the owner is present, he or she is then,in almost all cases, technically responsible for
the dog's actions.
(2) If a dog is outside in a confined area that is accessible to children or adults, the
dog's temperament should be such that it will not harm a strange child or adult even if,
for example, the child goes up to pet the animal in its "territory". Certainly
in this situation the parents should exercise better supervision over the child's
behavior. On the other hand, if a dog is so easily provoked it should not, in my opinion,
be confined outside (hence accessible to children and strangers).
Though it is hard to tell from your post, it appears unlikely your dog would deliberately
bite with the intent to harm if a neighbor's child simply put their hand inside the fence.
The dog might nip as a result of its herding instinct or out of excitement. It is likely
the dog was provoked in some, perhaps innocuous, way.
Your course of action, probably should be:
(1) Get your neighbors to agree to better supervise their child's behavior. Observe and
report (document) any problems or acts of cruelty.
(2) If possible, better "condition" your dog to be around your neighbor's
children and children in general. Get the dog more used to children's erratic behavior and
movements. Also try to acclimate your dog to being around groups of children. Border
Collie are quite intelligent and should respond well to gentle, slow acclimation and
(3) Confine your dog inside when left alone or unsupervised. This may not be as easy as it
sounds with a young, healthy border collie. However, if your neighbors or others refuse or
are unable to restrain their children and your dog is left outside, the next bite may be
more serious and the consequences more severe for the child, you and your dog.